“Patti LuPone F*cked With My Head”

February 24, 2014 16:09:44 Posted at February 24, 2014 16:09:44
Duana Posted by Duana
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Girls Season 3 Episode 8 recap

Okay. First, credit where credit is due. Before there was Mrs. Coach – before those long, luscious locks were no nonsense with the “look at the choices you are makin’” – there was Patti LuPone, Libby Thatcher from “Life Goes On”, if you have that memory, which means we might not be young. 

So I delighted in seeing her and listening to her speak truth to Hannah, and if she is therefore introduced to a whole new generation, I’m down with that. (P.S. Young types – she sings. Beget you to Google.) 

But the rest of the episode, I don’t know. I get that the idea of this season is “let’s see what happens if Hannah actually gets some success at what she wants to do” but it got boring in a hurry. Watching her make a face at someone she’s skeptical of for entire minutes of screen time is not really a thing that’s compelling, and the buying dresses and the luxury hotel room – I guess that it’s yet another homage to Sex And The City, but…it’s not new. It didn’t feel exciting. And coming off last week, when the gorgeous Hamptons-not-Hamptons house was just randomly available to them, and Jessa works in a store selling “$200 bathing suits for children”, I’m not wowed by the novelty of the Girls being in the luxury hotel suite.

However, Hannah is learning to be a person who’s not resentful of “mainstream”, or of success, and her joy at Adam’s first big professional leap forward was genuine and lovely, instead of tinged with regret and angst. A former Hannah would have made it about her – in this case, she really was all about Adam (even if tertiary characters made her navel-gaze a little). 

I am interested as hell in Adam, despite myself, because the show made a complete 180 and made him the most interesting character on the show – I love the bromance of Adam and Desi on a motorcycle. I would even watch that show more readily – and I HATE that.  I don’t need another show about two bros.  I don’t need True Detective: Broadway edition (nailed it!). I want to like the show about the young girls better.

But…come on. Jessa has been bored for five episodes and we’ve seen her make ill-fated romantic choices before – her jumping off the wagon felt maybe a little false because we’ve not seen her engage in real addict’s behavior. Okay, taking up with someone from rehab is bad – breaking into the cashbox is worse – but I haven’t seen Jessa be really anxious about staying on the straight and narrow. I haven’t seen her sobriety really be a problem for her. Am I being too linear about what sobriety is? Is boredom and angst enough of a reason to wander back into using? 

It may be that I don’t know someone like Jessa whose issues are so casually prevalent and then irrelevant. It may be that her addiction to substances is less pressing than her addiction to the crazy life that comes with them and the unpredictability that she craves – but something is missing for me.

Something is missing for Shoshanna too – it’s not quite adding up. The show has hinted that she’s more than the valley-talking punchline she sometimes seems to be, and last week’s acid-tongued drunken rebuke of everyone in the beach house was another show I wish I was watching, but they’re waiting until the end of the season to have her learn that Marnie and Ray are hooking up and arguably a better fit than Shosh and Ray ever were. But because we all know what’s coming, and she’s not doing anything in the meantime, it feels like making a fool of her on purpose, and the show has always tried to make Shoshanna’s, um, otherness into a celebration and not solely a punchline. I wouldn’t mind if she was meanwhile turning into something else – a different type of girl, or something to do with her sex life, or not, even – but I don’t know. It feels cheap.

Which means Marnie is, this week, the best served of the four girls. I’m still buying what’s being sold in her direction – that’s she’s the worst, fundamentally, first of all.  That she has rules about where and in front of whom she will eat pizza. That she would not only have the most awkward interaction known to man with a classmate on the street (“I mean, where is my childhood!!”) but would extend it far beyond where it needs to go. She’s kind of a glutton for punishment, which is the most familiar thing about the character – she never knows when to give herself a break.

Thinking back now on the series – back to when Marnie “threw a great abortion” and dutifully gave Charlie her bite guard – I’m not sure we’ve ever seen her be real.  The sharp looks she gives Ray are the closest we’ve come and the reason their interactions feel fresh and compelling. I want to see more of that, and more situations in which the chips on her shoulders grow bigger and harder to hide.

As for Hannah, everyone gets one week off, I guess. But she’s in desperate need of someone to yell at her for doing something as boneheadedly Hannah-esque as waving her paycheck in someone else’s face and not having an awkward situation come out of it. I thought I was watching a different show. Please let the terribleness resume so she can be the main character again.  

It’s not lost on me that the show gets better and I still have nitpicks, but it’s because the level of its potential awesomeness is just beginning to show up.

Patti LuPone, though.

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